Newswise — On 9-11-01, when America was wounded and needed healing, doctors of chiropractic were among the first health care providers at the disaster sites.

The New York Chiropractic leadership coordinated with the American Red Cross to credential some 1,500 doctors from state, national, and international associations. Chiropractors worked at five relief sites, including one just yards from the rubble of the Twin Towers, and gave adjustments around the clock. By May 30, 2002, more than $1.5 million in chiropractic services had been donated.

An article published in the current Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR), a peer-reviewed, scientific journal, examines the massive effort put forth by chiropractors during this period, and the impact their service had on relief workers.

Madeline Behrendt, DC, Associate Editor of JVSR and co-author of the article "Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy: The Chiropractic Relief Effort at Ground Zero" states: "This article reflects chiropractic's commitment to never forget the 40,000 workers and volunteers who provided rescue, recovery, and restoration services at the WTC disaster site. In addition, it serves to promote the spirit of public service in future generations of chiropractors."

The report expresses the hope, hurt, and healing that was part of the day-to-day reality of the relief efforts, and shows vividly how popular chiropractic care was among rescuers and workers. Chiropractic sites were packed with those wanting adjustments, even at 3 a.m., and at times were so crowded they had to be closed by the Fire Marshal.

Exhausted workers streamed to the sites during their breaks and after their shifts to get adjusted. John Przybylak, DC, co-author of the article, notes that many State Troopers didn't want to remove their bullet-proof vests during the procedure. "They were guessing that my hands could penetrate where bullets couldn't reach," Dr. Przybylak says. The workers reactions to the care included more than deep breaths and sighs. Often, they shared stories with the doctors about what they had experienced, or about people who were missing.

According to the article, a University of Delaware research paper commentary on volunteers and disaster services specifically recognized the chiropractic volunteer contingent for its smooth collaboration with officials and others at the scene, producing no management or logistical problems.

Chiropractic volunteers were exposed to environmental toxins and heavy metals at the site and have been contacted to participate in the World Trade Center Worker Health Survey.

"From an event that produced so much pain, the American spirit rose up and responded with great heart and community," Dr. Behrendt commented. "Chiropractic is honored to have been a formal part of this successful response. Chiropractors have also served in other hostile environments, including in military bases overseas providing chiropractic services for their comrades in times of war."

This article is the first in a special issue of JVSR devoted to "Chiropractic's Impact in Society." Topics of upcoming articles include: missions for the homeless, working with battered women, the link between spinal health and mental health (specifically anxiety), addiction, and chiropractic's role in the creative class.

The Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research is published by the World Chiropractic Alliance, is an international organization representing doctors of chiropractic that promotes traditional, drug-free and non-invasive chiropractic to correct vertebral subluxations. The WCA is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.

Abstracts for JVSR research reports are available at

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Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research